IN recent days your newspaper carried stories connected to the attempts by two individuals – Barry McElduff, Sinn Fein MLA for West Tyrone, and Jamie Bryson, chairperson of the newly formed Ulster People’s Forum – to decriminalise the activities of the PIRA and UVF.
As an organisation which provides support to the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism we do not subscribe to their attempts of revisionism.
Those who joined paramilitary organisations did so of their own volition and they went on to carry out acts of criminality under the guise of furthering so-called ‘political objectives’.
In South East Fermanagh we know all too well of the effects of the ‘Volunteers’ that Mr McElduff seeks to decriminalise – they murdered 39 innocent people and not one single reprisal murder was carried out by the families and communities affected. The UVF that Mr Bryson seeks to decriminalise were not contracted in nor was there any support within the area for them or any other paramilitary/terrorist organisation to reap further death and destruction.
Those victims and survivors left behind as a consequence of terrorism (whether committed by so-called ‘republicans’ or so-called ‘loyalists’) deserve respect and acknowledgement for what they have suffered. What these heroic people continue to have, however, which others surrendered when they acted as ‘Volunteers and assassins’ for terrorist organisations, is their basic human dignity.
Society needs to understand that attempts to revise or airbrush Northern Ireland’s past must be resisted. Innocent people were murdered because of warped political ideologies which often had sectarian influences at their core. There was never any justification for murder and intimidation.
Nor was or is there any justification for systematic smuggling operations, people trafficking, extortion rackets and other activities perpetrated by the very same organisations that Mr McElduff and Mr Bryson seek to defend.
Director of Services
South East Fermanagh Foundation